Bet Big on Agility... The Agile Workforce

This morning when I woke up, I checked my iPhone for any messages through the night. Once again I got a request to accept a new upgrade to my apps. It seems like this is happening on a daily basis now. It didn't stop there. My laptop informed me that I have a new upgrade to my video conferencing capability. It supposedly will be more efficient and higher quality resolution. Just another day in my digital world. Change is constant.

This technology evolution is occurring across the world, in businesses, across platforms - right next to you and me. It's even happening to me, and most probably to you, too.

Ellyn Shook, Accenture's Chief HR Officer, recently defined the liquid workforce as "using technology ... to transform people, projects and entire organizations into highly adaptable, change-ready enterprises." Ellyn argues that skill development, optimization of the workforce, and technology are a trifecta that - when managed well - enable companies to remain competitive and profitable throughout digital change. The concept embraces the advantages of the agile workforce.

"The key is to proactively help people adapt to rapidly changing demands in this digital world." Ellyn Shook CHRO Accenture

It got me thinking.

I've always interviewed senior leaders who are agile lifelong learners. What we're now starting to appreciate more is that a strong learning orientation - and willingness to change and grow - is critical for professionals throughout any successful organization. In fact, the ability to easily pick up new skills, adapt to new technologies is now business critical for everyone. You can't stand still with your current skill set. If you do, both the business you're in, and future opportunities, will pass you by.

From redefining the meaning of "job," to enabling the "gig economy," today's liquid workforce will challenge us in many ways. If we can harness its energy and power, we can be more competitive, provide learning to individuals in remote locations and create new economies.

At LinkedIn, we get to see this transition in real time. We've long had a front-row seat and were early in spotting the need to close the "skill gap" -- to provide opportunities for all professionals to realize their fullest potential. This is one of the reasons why we decided to acquire Lynda.com last year. They understood the ever-changing technologies and need to keep skills up to date to help professionals be better at what they do and develop the skills needed to accelerate their careers. That changing landscape ensured the importance of a comprehensive collection in their learning content portfolio, which attracted students and adults to their site to make a real change in their lives through access to information, learning and professional development.

Got a new smart phone? Want to learn PowerPoint? New Java Software released? You have to keep up. The digital world demands it.

What's also cool is that Accenture sees a future where corporations will replace the function of some higher education providers. Smart organizations will develop their own alternatives to fill skill gaps. Accenture also identifies the rise of professionals' "digital reputation," which replaces resumes and traditional performance processes. With more than 400 million professionals with a LinkedIn profile, I believe they are right!

I'm professionally excited as we need to re-think how Human Resources has to adapt to these changes as well. As Josh Bersin, an HR thought leader in Deloitte highlighted in his predictions for 2016, we will see many disruptions taking place. He predicts that everything in the world of talent is changing--from the way we recruit and attract people, as well as how we manage and reward them, to the way we learn, and how we curate and manage our entire work-life experience.

With that said we, as individuals are evolving constantly, as demonstrated each time we upgrade our smart phone or learn a new business application at work. In my talks with professionals around the world, I encourage everyone to get excited about this change. Learning is easier and more fun than ever. Leverage services like Lynda.com to fill a skill gap. Seek out companies that embrace learning so you can further your development while you work.

But the very best part, and Ellyn highlighted this too, is that in order for companies to win - they need you! You are the workforce. You are that agile learner - the liquid workforce. With digital technologies, we can augment and empower human beings to become smarter, faster, and better.

That doesn't sound bad to me. What about you? You ready to embrace the future? Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.